Volvo's U.S. Assembly Plant Will Go All-Electric

First Up 06/28/21

Volvo's U.S. Assembly Plant Will Go All-Electric

Volvo Cars has a new electric vision for its U.S. assembly plant in South Carolina, reports Automotive News. The factory, opened three years ago, will become Volvo Group's first all-electric vehicle assembly plant, executives told Automotive News last week. And it will be the cornerstone of the Swedish automaker's ambitious plan to become an EV-only brand by 2030. The 2.3-million-square-foot operation in Ridgeville, an hour northwest of Charleston, will be the "first company factory in the world building our all-new-generation all-electric cars — before Europe and before China," Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said. "This factory will ... also be the only plant in the Volvo Group which only makes full-electric cars." The automaker previously said it would invest about $700 million at the site to build EVs. "Charleston will play a very important role in our electrification strategy," Samuelsson said. "It's a huge investment that we are doing." Read more here (Source: Automotive News). 

Honda Will Call Its GM-Based EV the Prologue

Honda has chosen a forward-looking name for the battery-electric crossover that it is developing with General Motors for the 2024 model year: Prologue. According to Automotive News, the Honda crossover will use GM's Ultium platform and batteries, but Honda will develop the vehicle's body style and interior. The Honda-GM venture also will develop a battery-electric Acura crossover in the 2024 calendar year, the company said. The Prologue is expected to go on sale in early 2024, the company said. "Our first volume Honda BEV will begin our transition to electrification and the name Honda Prologue signals the role it will play in leading to our zero-emission future," Dave Gardner, executive vice president of American Honda Motor Co., said in a statement. Read more here (Source: Automotive News).

International Carmakers' U.S. Plants Relax COVID-19 Protocols as Detroit 3 Keep Masks

Reuters reports that international automakers are beginning to relax some COVID-19 protocols at their U.S. plants, including the wearing of masks, even as the Detroit-based carmakers and the United Auto Workers union continue to require workers to wear masks. Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co, BMW AG, and Geely's Volvo Cars all are beginning to let workers at some U.S. plants shed their masks as COVID-19 vaccinations continue to climb across the country. Some companies are requiring workers to provide proof of vaccination before they can go mask-free. In the meantime, General Motors Co (GM.N), Ford Motor Co and Stellantis NV all said their workers must continue to wear masks. Read more here (Source: Reuters). 

Short Supplies, High Demand Mean Auto Shoppers Pay Through the Nose

According to Forbes, Charlie Chesbrough, Cox Automotive senior economist, recently and reluctantly raised the company’s U.S. auto sales forecast for 2021 — reluctantly, because he believes sooner or later auto sales are bound to slow down, due to high prices, low new-car inventory, and the exhaustion of pent-up demand. It just hasn’t happened yet. “I don’t know who’s left to buy?” Chesbrough said in a recent webinar sponsored by the American International Automobile Dealers Association.  “Who would want to buy, in this crazy environment?” Consumers lack bargaining power, he said. Nevertheless, Cox Automotive hiked its 2021 U.S. auto sales forecast to 16.5 million new cars and trucks combined, up from 14.5 million in 2020, which was affected by the pandemic. In March, the Cox Automotive forecast for 2021 was 15.7 million. Since then, auto sales have been so strong, Chesbrough says it’s mathematically “implausible” that with six months to go, 2021 auto sales would finish the year that low. Read more here (Source: Forbes). 

Hundreds of New Cars Swamped by Flood as Storms Disrupt Detroit-Area Production

Massive storms sweeping through the Detroit area in recent days not only disrupted production at area assembly plants but also flooded a marshalling yard holding hundreds of finished vehicles produced for various Stellantis brands. While manufacturers told The Detroit Bureau they hope to make up for at least some of the losses in the days and weeks ahead, new storms forecast for the entire coming week could complicate matters. Worse, any losses will exacerbate vehicle shortages the industry is already experiencing due to a lack of critical microchips. The marshalling yard is used to prepare vehicles from the Jeep, Dodge, Ram, and Chrysler brands for shipping by both truck and rail. Videos and still pictures of the facility showed what appeared to be hundreds of products under water to varying degrees. In its statement, the company said it is “assessing the conditions of vehicles” stored there to see which, if any, can be salvaged. Read more here (Source: The Detroit Bureau). 

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